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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Next up: creating order from chaos

All the grades are in--at least electronically. I would turn in my paper rosters, but the office is already closed for the day, so I'll do that when I'm back on Thursday to work on full-time faculty schedules. In the "excellent news" department, Bruce said he doesn't need me any more this week--though I do need to remember to check in with Lori (the miraculous administrative assistant) to see if she needs my help setting up the book table for adjuncts to select their texts. If she does, I'll come in tomorrow for that (and copy and submit the paper rosters while I'm at it), but if not, I'm free tomorrow. We managed to come up with some kind of schedule for everyone today; Thursday we get to check them to see how many errors we can catch. (We always miss something that should be glaringly obvious: a five day schedule--or someone who only has three courses, not four.) And the office looks like a troupe of chimpanzees has been set loose on my desk area: at this point, even I don't know what's where.

I was also supposed to make three "life maintenance" phone calls today--and I completely spaced making all of them until it was too late. Ah well. Tomorrow is another day (and all that rot).

The one confession I must make is that I "cooked the books" for one student in the T/Th 101. She should by all rights have failed the class; in fact, she wasn't even close to passing, so it wasn't a case of just nudging the numbers a little. I had to lie like a rug just to get her numbers to come out to a 60 (the lowest possible passing score). The Mensch's numeric score came out slightly below a B, but it was easily within the "rounding" margin, so I don't feel quite so itchy about that one. But the young woman for whom I pretzeled the grades is rather a different issue.

I feel particularly bad about it because I did fail a student in the M/W 101 whose grade was no worse--and what makes me squirm a bit is that I'm not sure how much of my decision is based on a realistic appraisal of who is capable of going on to the next step and how much is my feeling about the class--not even the individual student as much as the whole bunch of students in each section. I was so embittered by the M/W 101 by the end, I wasn't inclined to give anyone the benefit of the doubt--and I was so delighted and touched by the T/Th 101 that I didn't want anyone to be unhappy.

This is hardly sound pedagogy. It's not even ethical. I have no excuses, except that I'm a flawed mortal and sometimes do things that I know I shouldn't.

I console myself by thinking that, in five years, the grade I gave each of those young women--both the D and the F--will have disappeared in the wash of other events in their lives and won't actually matter as much as what comes after.

The only other slight bad taste in my mouth is that I had to essentially strong arm one of our sweetest retirees to take an adjunct course she didn't want. I'd already called her once to tell her I couldn't give her two courses in the first summer session and asking if she would be willing to take one in the second. I told her at that time that in SSI, she'd have the 001 she wanted--but in the interim, Bruce had to give that to someone with more seniority, and she had a 101. She was very upset to lose the 001, very upset that she'd been prepping it, not knowing that she didn't have it any more, and very upset to suddenly have to prep a Film and Lit course, which she hasn't taught in forever--but we had no one else qualified to take it. She's a trouper, and I feel particularly bad about it because her sister died suddenly only a few weeks ago, so I know she's emotionally drained (and I know all too well how grief drains intellectual energy as well as physical and emotional energy). So she snarked at me a bit, but she said she'd do it. And that was the one thing I did to help Bruce today. He'd come upstairs to see me when we were in the midst of scheduling the full-timers to ask me if I could think of anyone who'd be willing and able. Without being able to see the list of who had put in a summer preference form, I couldn't, so on our lunch break, I went down--and that's when I saw that she was qualified, and that the course is running exactly at the same time when we'd had her other class (first the 001, then the 101) scheduled. So I'm happy to have helped Bruce, but I don't like having imposed on someone who is so willing to help us when we're painted into a corner. She deserves better.

That said, Bruce also told me he doesn't need me to do the preliminary fall schedules for the adjuncts: he's so worried about whether we're going to be able to fill courses for the full-time faculty, he doesn't want to start fussing with adjunct schedules until we see which way the winds are blowing. We're hopeful that the fact that we finally have a president--and, by all reports, a good one--will stop some of the hemorrhaging of students who got scared off by the news about the failed presidential search and the spanking we're going to get from Middle States. But we really don't know what to expect, except it's likely to be ugly.

Still, if I don't have to deal with it until August, between now and when I leave for my annual pilgrimage west, I can work on the two book reviews I've promised to The Goose (the journal of the Canadian version of ASLE: ALECC), on straightening up the office, and on reconstructing 102, plus some tinkering with Science Fiction. I'm already starting to think ahead to next spring, even, as I've been assigned Nature in Lit again, for the first time in a while, and may be able to pick up a section of Native American Lit, too--which would be heaven.

But that's way way way down the road. Right now, this instant, I have only one thing to determine, and that's what I'm going to have for dinner. All the rest can wait.

I'll be blogging more this week, I expect, and probably next week as well, as the two students from the Poetry class work on clearing their incompletes. But that can wait, too. Today's a wrap.

1 comment:

  1. Your pedagogy is hardly questionable, your energy is heroic, and your heart--given the evidence of strength -- is pure.

    Salud -- BF